“The Rescue – Seven People, Seven Amazing Stories” by Jim Cymbala is not primarily about what I thought it was going to be about, and it spoke to me in a way I did not expect. It was more. It was better. I spent about three and a half hours reading The Rescue cover to cover and near the end, it irritated me in the best possible way. I had to put it down, get up from my comfy chair, take a walk and say out loud, “Really?!” You see, as I read through the first few stories, the thing that I had decided to focus on in my review became clear. However, it turned out to be the very thing I needed to hear myself right now. I heard The Lord say in my heart, “This is for others, but it’s also for you. Pay attention.” I was going to be all cool and share this great book with the world wide web. It turns out God wanted to share it with me.

How it started

Going in, I thought The Rescue was going to focus on the circumstances of people’s stories.

  • How the drug addict got off drugs.
  • How the rich guy found real joy in not being rich, (and his name happens to be Rich.)
  • How the victim of incest got her life turned around and the child grew up to be an amazing person.

These stories are in the book, and more. But those changes are not the kind of rescue the book is really about. In the first five pages it became evident; being rescued didn’t mean being saved from circumstances, it was meant people being saved from themselves. It was about transformation. Jim writes,

“If I had a big enough hose, I’d invite you into my living room to sit down with me and the seven friends whose stories I tell. As you listened to each of them, a window would open up, offering you a glimpse not only into their pain and confusion but also into the joy and peace they’ve found as a result of a profound transformation.” p. 3

“… I believe that their stories of transformation have the potential to transform your life and the lives of those you care about.” p. 4

“… my hope is that, like my seven friends, you will experience the deep transformation that I call ‘the rescue’ – an experience that will change your life so that you will no longer feel defeated by your problems or overwhelmed by your worries. Instead you will have learned what it means to live a life of profound transformation, one that will bring you joy and give you the kind of peace that will never leave you.” p. 5

Yes! Transformation! I love this word. I love that this is what God is about. I was thrilled when I read this because lots of people seem to be able to turn their lives around even apart from Jesus, but they aren’t really saved from that which held them captive; they aren’t rescued yet. The Rescue is not just about how God helped people turn their lives around. At its core the book is about how people recognize their need for Jesus and accept him, surrender their lives to God, how God transforms their hearts and mind and rescues them in the truest possible sense. The Christianese word is “saved.”  But isn’t that what it means to be rescued; to be saved?

Let me show you what I’m talking about with some key quotes from some of the stories.


“It would be wrong to say I am surprised by what I hear. No, I am shocked. There really is a God, and he loves me! Now the man says I should invite Jesus into my heart. I look up into the night sky, up to heaven, and say, “I accept you; I accept you; I accept you into my life. I don’t know what that means, but I accept you.” I beg Jesus to come in, and he does, bringing so much peace. It washes over me, and I am surrounded by it.” p. 25

“In that moment I completely surrendered my life to Christ.” p. 29

There is a pattern that begins in Lawrence’s story that is evident throughout. While the order of the first two parts can be reversed, the outcome is the same.

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.

Timiney and Rich

This is a kind of tag team story. It’s very cool how God weaves people’s lives together over time.

Timiney – “I remember nothing about the [church] service except saying to God, I don’t understand my past. I don’t understand the church I was raised in. I don’t understand why the things that happened to me happened, but I am ready to live for you. And that was it. Seven years after I had fled the church in Austin, I walked into the arms of Christ.” p. 49

Rich – “I used to think you had to be in good shape to come to God. But now I realize that we all come broken. We come messed up and sinful. And he accepts us just as we are. That’s why Christ died, to deal with our brokenness and sin, to bring us back to the Father. God loves us even when we aren’t living as we should be living, because how can we until he saves us? Let’s ask him to save us.” pp. 69-70

The Rescue by Jim Cymbala - Book Review || https://corbys.link/therescue

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.


I love Robin’s story for the sole reason that Robin is Jewish and found her Messiah. Lest we forget, Jesus was Jewish, all of his disciples were Jewish, the church was exclusively Jewish until Acts 10. While Jews have a religion that is associated with their ethnicity, it is incomplete without The Messiah. Robin met Yeshua.

“As [my mother’s friend] started to walk away, I called out to her. ‘I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I feel like I had chains on me and they just fell off. It’s like I was sleeping my entire life and I just woke up, like new blood is running inside me. I feel alive!’ Running back, she exclaimed, ‘You just met Yeshua – you met Jesus!’ Pointing first to my head and then to my heart, she said, ‘Yesterday it was here, but now it’s here.’” p. 87

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.


“As I joined in the worship, I felt God touching my heart, filling me up. I gave my life to Christ in that moment, telling him once again that I would go wherever he wanted and do whatever he wanted. I felt forgiven, washed clean, loved. The Father of the fatherless was there with me, healing me, taking my depression, my isolation, my fear, my hurts – everything – and replacing them with his peace. That’s when God really got hold of me.” p. 111-112

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.


“Finally, in the midst of my separation, I cried out to God. Get me out of this mess! I pleaded. You’ve got to get me out. I don’t care what it takes. Even if it means exposing my sin, please God rescue me! And God did. He came in and saved me in the deepest way possible. He forgave me, healed me, and restored me to my husband and children.” pp 160-161

Accepting Jesus + fully surrendering your life to him = transformation; rescue.


It was right around the time of Toni’s story when I got up from my chair and said, “Really?!” Without going into all the details of my own story, I have felt as though I have had a right to my depression (chronic, it’s a family trait) due to my circumstances. Now I’m reminded that God transforms us, not by first delivering us from our circumstances (which He can), or even through our circumstances (which He does), but He transforms our hearts and mind when we come to the end of ourselves regardless of circumstances. Circumstances may or may not change, but that transformation, that rescue, can happen immediately. More than that, transformation is both an all-at-once thing, and a life-long process. It’s that second part we don’t like to hear.

Despite feeling right in my depression and entitled to my frustration, that’s not what God wants for me, or for you.

Now, thanks to The Rescue, Pastor Jim Cymbala, and seven strangers, I have a choice to make on a daily basis. I have accepted Jesus. It’s the surrendering-your-life-to-him bit that isn’t always easy. I have to chose to do it or continue choosing to not do it. Why would someone not do it? Because I don’t feel like I deserve what Jesus did for me and the freedom it provides for me. No one deserves it which is why it’s a free gift. Ignoring that hasn’t worked out so well. I guess I need to swallow the medicine I’ve been prescribing to others.

Honestly? It’s scary. I really don’t like the person I’ve become but I’m comfortable in “him.” I have control over “him.” While I might not be the “old man,” this version of the “in-process” man is comfy. I still need to put him off and put on the new man (have a look at Ephesians 4:20-24). Yet again another area where I need to Luke 9:23 myself. Deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow Him.

Buy One, Give One

I love reading and talking about transformation because I know I need it myself. I want others to experience it. With The Rescue, I have another tool to share what it looks like with others.

I’m going to ask you to not buy one book; buy two. I’m not trying to sell books for Jim. In fact, he doesn’t even keep the royalties. He puts them right into the church to enable ministry that seeks to help people experience being rescued. No, I’m asking you to buy two because before you get to the end of it you will already know someone else who needs to read it. I know I do.

Without being rescued, we die, we perish. Being rescued = being saved and then living a life worthy of that with the one who rescued you by giving himself in your place. May Jesus continue his work of transformation in all of us.

Here is a link to the first two chapters of the book, including Lawrence’s story.

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